By Bill Hudson

RICHFIELD, Minn. (WCCO) – In early 2012, Richfield-based retailing giant Best Buy was mired in executive turmoil and a sinking stock price. It was under intense revenue pressure from online retailing. At the time, business analysts called the company a hands-on showroom for internet shoppers.

But then, former Carlson Companies executive Hubert Joly took the reins and charted an impressive turnaround.

Costs were cut and new strategies sent both sales and Best Buy’s stock price to soar from a low of under $15 per share to a 52-week high of more than $84 per share. In the span of six years, the electronics retailer was strong again.

Now, Joly is handing control to a new chief executive officer. The board of directors has selected a 20-year company veteran, Corie Barry, as Best Buy’s latest CEO.

“It’s exciting, it’s exciting but not much of a surprise,” said Pat Hedberg, University of St. Thomas business professor.

Hedberg is the faculty director of the executive and health care MBA program at the Opus College of Business. Professor Hedberg calls the news exciting because Barry played a role in the company’s impressive resurgence.

Because Barry serves as Best Buy’s Chief Financial Officer, she understands the company’s ongoing strategies as well as its challenges.

“She’s an example of a strong woman leader who was in impressive roles in the organization. As the CFO, she headed strategic transformation, which is responsible for a lot of that success,” Hedberg said.

Best Buy is not making Barry available for interviews she takes over in early June. But in a company blog, current CEO Joly called the board’s decision “unanimous and enthusiastic.”

“She knows the place, she’s highly respected and, importantly, she’s a terrific leader,” Joly said.

Business observers like Hedberg expect a smooth transition with few noticeable changes for consumers.

“The fact that the new CEO was responsible for the strategic transformation the organization has been making, makes it very likely that it continues on the same trajectory it is on now,” Hedberg said.

The change in leadership will occur after Best Buy’s June 11 shareholder’s meeting.

Barry now joins two other female CEOs in top Minnesota companies. Beth Ford heads Land O’Lakes and Thrivent is led by CEO Terry Rasmussen. Both are Fortune 500 companies. However, Barry will be one of just seven female CEOs at Fortune 100 companies.

Bill Hudson

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